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Stories from the valley

Perseverance in Paradise

Contributed by Steve Beckley

A trip to Paradise is always an emotional experience since the devastating fire last fall.  As you drive up the Skyway and through the town, there are constant reminders of the disaster.  You will also see many signs that the area is determined to recover. I recently went up to check out how Jim and Laurie Noble of Noble Orchards were doing.

I found them doing what they do best, selling apples.  They have converted their orchard to a U Pick operation, as they lost all of their buildings and equipment in the fire.  But the orchard survived and is thriving. The orchard and packing operation was established in 1921, so a major fire was not going to deter them from continuing. 

It was sad to see the loss they sustained, but uplifting to see their spirits high and making sure the public had access to apples that are a fall tradition in Butte County and surrounding areas.  I was also thrilled that Jim’s 1941 Willy’s Jeep survived. The day of the fire he was in the orchard and had run out of gas, so he left it in the orchard and it was untouched by the fire.

It was fun to watch their customers picking apples and enjoying a fall afternoon out.  It is a great lesson for the public on farm to fork. Seems each group had a different plan for the fruit such as pie, baked, apple sauced or just fresh apples to eat.

Jim and Laurie have not decided what the future will be for their operation.  But I would recommend you check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NobleOrchards/ to see if they are open, if so take a ride up to Paradise to get some great fresh apples and meet a couple of great people that I know have a wonderful future in front of them.

They raise several varieties of apples, but I think they all should be named “Phoenix,”after the mythical bird that is reborn from the ashes, to start a new, long life.